Bailter Space | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Bailter Space

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By increasingly segregating itself into distinct genres (punk, industrial, pop, avant rock, etc), indie rock has become a realm of specialists, much like the white-collar world it seems to loathe. However, New Zealand's Bailter Space take a refreshingly interdisciplinary approach to alternative rock. Their records boast rapturously tuneful pop songs, jarring full-throttle punk workouts, and the occasional experimental noise foray. More importantly, band members John Halvorsen (guitar, bass), Alister Parker (guitar, bass), and Brent McLachlan (drums) bring an unflagging craftsmanship and intensity to everything they play. The trio first performed together as the Gordons in the early 80s, and for several years they hammered out a furious metallic punk distinguished by jagged chord clusters, unusual guitar tunings, and relentless volume. Following a breakup, they re-formed as Bailter Space and began leavening their abrasive sound with unabashedly gentle melodies and delicate playing. Since then the band has equally indulged its pop and punk proclivities. Their 1989 LP Thermos--a mesmerizing blend of the Gordons' hallmark clamor and Bailter Space's newfound penchant for pop hooks--was one of the finest, most overlooked records of that decade. Last year's Vortura was another high-water mark, brilliantly consolidating melodious songcraft, savage dissonance, and sonic experimentation. Their more basic and direct new record Wammo (Matador) leans heavily on the band's pop-oriented persona. They're one of the best bands working today, and their live show here last summer was a killer. Friday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Stefano Giovanini.

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